Since my father died in March, I've been going to Missouri every month to spend time with my mother on the farm and make sure she's well taken care of. I take her lunch, play Sorry, color, and do a sticker book with her each day I'm there. This month, the roads were so icy that I couldn't take her out to lunch, so we had to improvise. When I left to brave the icy roads back to the hotel, she said, "Thank you for the day."
Thank you for the day. What a grand sentiment! I had done nothing special, given only the gift of time, and yet it meant the world to her. As you enjoy your Christmas season, please remember that it's the simple gift of time that means so much to many of our sisters. It's the best gift of all. Make some time to share with the sisters in your chapter who need it most during this blessed season.
When I spent a year in MSUDenver's leadership training, one focus was the psychology behind being a leader. Part of that training included instruction about and activities in happiness. This may sound silly, but it really helped me grow in ways I didn't expect, and some of the ideas may be useful to you in this holiday season as well.
The workshop began with the story of a man standing at a train station who started looking at his watch and tipping up onto his toes, acting like he was annoyed that the train was late even though the train was on time. Within 2 minutes, everyone on the platform was acting annoyed at the train that wasn't late. This revelation made him realize that if he could lead others into annoyance, he could lead them into happiness too, and The Happiness Project was born. In one video, Gretchen Rubin gives some very specific actions that can help inform our happiness throughout the holiday season. You can watch her whole video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzuawrFE1xM. I'll share some of her ideas here.
Rubin's research discovered many professional definitions of happiness--contentment, satisfaction, bliss, peace, joy--to name a few. I agree with her that just knowing happiness is different for everyone and that it takes many forms can open up my understanding of my own happiness. I may not have my father this Christmas, but I spent a wonderful day with my mother despite the icy roads. I would say I'm content with that day, and so was she!
According to Rubin, three things impact our happiness. First is genetics. We're naturally a Tigger or an Eyore. Second is life circumstances like age and health, and third is the way we think and act. This seems very basic, but she suggests specific actions that can lead to being happier--sing in the morning, do something new that challenges you. Even going out to a new restaurant is a challenge that can make us happier. She also mentions ways to get more happiness from the possessions we have--make a shrine of photos or books. Another idea I love is that if I can do something in a minute--make the bed, scan a bill--I should do it because I will feel happier because I've accomplished something. In this very busy holiday season, just completing quick little tasks will build satisfaction that makes us happier.
Most powerfully for DKG, Rubin talks about face-to-face meetings and how groups offer fun, relationships, and accountability. She says that happy people are more interested in helping others and helping solve world problems, so by becoming happier, we actually help others, too! I've mentioned my favorite video at DKG.org Leadership Lab before, Amanda Gore's The Power of Joy. it's a great season to spend a few minutes hearing her ideas, too. The MSU Leadership workshop ended with each of us receiving a gratitude journal. At first I thought it was a really stupid idea, but when I began writing things I was grateful for each day, my whole attitude changed in a month. This holiday season is a great time to pause and jot down things we're thankful for to increase our feelings of happiness.
We know it's the season to be jolly, fa la la la la...la la la la. So if you're like me and needing some actions that will make you happier, sing a song in the morning and make some time to sit with sisters who are alone this season. Mail a card, make a phone call, share a coffee. Do something new. And make yourself a Very Merry Christmas!